Pratt, Orson, "Interesting Items Concerning the Journeying of the Latter-day Saints from the City of Nauvoo, Until Their Location in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake (Extracted from the Private Journal of Orson Pratt),"
Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, 15 Jan. 1850, 18-19; ibid., 1 Feb. 1850, 33-35; ibid., 15 Feb. 1850, 49-50; ibid., 1 Mar. 1850, 65-68; ibid., 15 Mar. 1850, 81-83; ibid., 1 Apr. 1850, 97-100; ibid., 15 Apr. 1850, 113-15; ibid., 1 May 1850, 129-31; ibid., 15 May 1850, 145-47; ibid., 1 June 1850, 161-66; and ibid., 15 June 1850, 177-78.
Taking into consideration the helpless condition of several hundred families, the small amount of provisions which we had on hand, and the lateness of the season, it was concluded to be unsafe, during the present year, to launch forth into the wild uninhabitable region of the mountains in search of a resting place. Necessity obliged us to postpone this great undertaking until the next spring.
Several thousand of the Saints had crossed, with their wagons and teams, the Missouri river, and even one small company of one or two hundred, had advanced some two hundred miles westward, among the Pawnee Indians; while large numbers were still encamped on the Pottawattomie lands. Under these painful circumstances, we were compelled to take up winter quarters in an Indian country, the main portion of our camp being on the lands owned by the Omaha Indians.
Every exertion was now made to prepare for the coming winter. A beautiful tract of land on the west bank of the Missouri was selected, which was handsomely laid out into square blocks, and streets running at right angles. Here, during the remaining portion of the summer and autumn, we erected about one thousand houses, principally built of logs cut from the adjacent groves. This city, being something less than a mile square, we called "WINTER QUARTERS." Several hundred tons of prairie hay were cut and stacked, for the preservation of our large and extensive droves, of horses, mules, cattle, and sheep. By our preserving industry, we soon found ourselves comfortably located for the winter. We were under the necessity, however, of sending down to the Missouri settlements, between one and two hundred miles, to exchange wagons and other property, for provisions to sustain several thousand people.
Our exposure to hardships and privations caused sickness and death to prevail; many hundreds were laid in the silent grave, to rest from their sufferings and toil, and to receive a glorious resurrection when the poor and the meek shall inherit the earth.
During the winter, I returned to Pisgah and Garden Grove. Found the Saints in those two settlements doing very well, although they also had suffered much by sickness and death. After encouraging them, and imparting such instructions relative to their emigration, &c., as circumstances required, I returned to "Winter Quarters."
During the winter, the Omahas stole many of our horses, and about a hundred head of cattle, the latter of which they killed for food. We had made many presents to these Indians, but they seem to be a treacherous degraded tribe, compared with many others. The Sioux made war upon them during the winter, and killed nearly a hundred, not many miles from our camp.
Early in April, 1847, several of the Twelve, with a company of pioneers, numbering in all, 143 souls, left "Winter Quarters" for the Great Salt Lake Basin, intending to explore the country, and find a place the most suitable for forming a settlement. That portion of the camp who intended following the present season, were requested to wait for eight or ten weeks, until the weather should become warmer, and the grass should have time to grow.
During our stay in "Winter Quarters," we had sent to England, and procured the following instruments preparatory to our exploring expedition, viz:-two sextants, one circle of reflection, two artificial horizons, two barometers, several thermometers, telescopes, &c.
Many thousands who were not in circumstances to follow us the present season, were requested to use every exertion in putting in spring crops to sustain themselves, and the emigration which was expected from our eastern churches. After arranging things as comfortably as possible, we left our families and proceeded west, carrying grain in our wagons to feed our animals until grass should grow.
Our course was up the north bank of Platte river, along which we travelled slowly; finding the roads very good, the country being level, and the soil somewhat dry and sandy. I took observations daily, for the latitude and longitude, and also barometric and thermometric observations.
Having crossed the Elk Horn by a raft, constructed for the purpose, and having forded the Loup Fork, not, however, without some danger, in consequence of the quick sands, we reached Grand Island in the Platte river, about the first of May.
May 3rd. We are now near the head of Grand Island. Our teams being rather weak for the want of sufficient food, we concluded to rest a day. A company of our hunters were sent out in search of buffalo, antelope, &c. Another company were dispatched to examine the country in advance; others, were employed in setting wagon tire, and in various duties of the camp. The mercury in the barometer stood higher this morning than for several days previous. I occupied this day in calculating the longitude of Beaver Creek ford from a lunar distance taken several days before. Our hunters returned, having obtained only two buffalo calves and one antelope. The party sent out to examine the country returned bringing us intelligence that a large party of Indians were only a few miles in advance. They judged them to number 4 or 500. They said it was evident they had discovered us for they had their horses by their bits and some were mounted. The Indians endeavored to intercept them but were unable to do so. The Platte river (or Nebraska) is very roily or muddy, like the waters of the Missouri.
May 4th. This morning there is a heavy dew, with frost in some places. At half-past five the thermometer stood at 33 deg. A little after six the people were called together, the rules and regulations of the camp were read, and some instructions given relative to the safety of ourselves and teams from Indian aggressions. At 11 the camp started, and after traveling about three miles, I took an observation for the latitude, but a high south wind agitated the quicksilver in the artificial horizon to that degree, that my observation was imperfect. The latitude was found to be 40 deg. 44 min. 53 sec. While taking the observation, I being a short distance in advance of the camp, a Frenchman came from the opposite bank of the river, having seen us in the distance. He forded the river to learn who we were. He informed us that he was from Fort Laramie, having traveled the distance in sixteen days. He said there was good grass and a good road on the opposite side of the river, and that immense herds of buffalo were feeding and roaming over the hills and prairies on both sides of the river. His company consisted of nine persons and three wagons. They intended crossing the Missouri river at or near Westport. Some fifty or sixty letters were written to our families at Winter Quarters. He stopped with the camp one hour, when he again re-forded the Platte; three of our men accompanied him to the opposite side of the river, which is here about three quarters of a mile broad. Our camp then started and traveled about three miles, and halted where there was some grass which had escaped the fire that had passed over it but a day or two before.
The Indians for a number of says have been burning the old grass, and the fire when once commenced extends its ravages for scores of miles on all sides where it can find dry grass and other combustibles. The prairies and hills in all directions present a blackened surface, with only here and there small spots of green grass mingled with dry.
Our three messengers returned from their interview with the company on the other side of the river. The principal man among them was Mr. Papau. In the meantime we saw several objects in advance of us, which our glasses would not satisfactorily decide whether they were horses or wild animals. Three or four men with horses were sent forward to ascertain what they were; they found them to be a small flock of antelope. Antelope for a few days have been quite plenty, and buffalo almost constantly in sight. We again marched on, the wagons going in single file, traveled about three miles, and encamped about sun-down on the bank of a small, clear, graveled-bottom stream of water.
May 5th. This morning about 7 o'clock, the barometer stood at 27.632 inch, attached thermometer 58 deg. 5 min., detached thermometer 57 deg. 9 min., with a fresh breeze from the south, which continued to increase. About 8 o' clock we started, following the general course of the Platte, which runs from a north-westerly direction. A little before 12, we found a small spot of grass, which had escaped the devouring element, also some water. We stopped and let our teams feed, having travelled about eight miles. In the afternoon travelled about six miles, during which time some of the hunters killed one buffalo cow, five calves, and captured a good sized calf alive, which we intended to keep. A high south wind blew during the day. About 4 p.m., we came to the column of fire which crossed our path, running from the river to the north, as far as the eye could extend. We concluded that it would be the safest to camp upon the burnt prairie. We found some small patches of grass that had escaped the fire, upon which our animals grazed until dark, being watched by a portion of the camp.
May 6th. About 4 o'clock this morning , it rained a few drops, sufficient to lay, in some small degree, the dust and ashes of the prairie. The camp started early, and travelled about two miles, and found ourselves once more on the west side of the newly burnt prairie; we stopped for breakfast, and to let our teams feed. At half-past 7 o'clock, the barometer stood at 27.242 inch, attached thermometer 68 deg., detached thermometer 67 deg. 5 min. A brisk gale from the north-west. Sky clear. We travelled about eight miles this forenoon. I took a meridian observation of the sun by sextant, from which I determined the latitude to be 40 deg. 48 min. 42 sec. In the afternoon moved on about nine miles, and encamped for the night. During the whole day, immense herds of buffalo were in sight, on both sides of the river. Many hundreds feeding within a quarter of a mile of our road, did not seem to be alarmed at our approach. During the time of our halts, we had to watch our teams, to keep them from mingling with the buffalo. I think I may safely say, that I have seen 10,000 buffalo during the day. Some few antelope which came near our wagons, we killed for food; their meat being very excellent, but we did not allow ourselves to kill any game, only as we wanted for food. One buffalo cow we found near our road, which seemed to be sick or weak through old age, although able to stand, yet she did not feel disposed to run; we gathered around her, while some caught her by the horns, but she was too weak and feeble to do any harm. We left her quietly to live or to die. During the afternoon, President Young lost his spy glass; several went back in search, but it could not be found. Young buffalo calves frequently came in the way, and we had to carry them to a distance from the camp to prevent them from following us, and being in our way.
May 7th. This morning took a meridian altitude of the moon, from which the latitude was deduced, and found to be 40 deg. 51 min. 18 sec. From a lunar distance of moon from sun, determined the longitude to be 100 deg. 5 min. 45 sec., differing only 2 sec. of a degree, or 10 rods from the longitude as determined by Captain Freemont, taken on the opposite side of the river; also took an observation of the sun's altitude for the time. At 5h. 30m. a.m., the barometer stood at 27.334 inch, attached thermometer 44 deg. 7 min., detached thermometer 41 deg. A high north wind renders the weather cold and uncomfortable. Indeed, our camp is now about on the meridian of greatest cold; for if the isothermal lines, or the lines of the same annual mean temperature of the northern hemisphere be traced from the eastern parts of Asia, they will generally be found to bend northwards, arriving at their greatest extremity in a northern direction in the western parts of Europe. Here they take a gradual sweep towards the south, arriving at their greatest southern extremity in the central parts of North America, in about 100 degs. west longitude; hence, those places in the northern hemisphere, through which the lines of equal annual temperature pass, have about 14 deg. or 15 deg. difference of latitude. In the west of Europe, those places situated 1,000 miles north of the places on this meridian, will have about the same annual mean temperature; while those countries in the eastern parts of the old continent, which are situated on the meridian of greatest cold on that continent, are still some 400 or 500 miles north of the countries bordering and ranging on the meridian of greatest cold on the New continent; therefore it may with propriety be said, that the camp is now on, and passing over, the coldest meridian of the northern hemisphere. About 11 o'clock, the camp moved on, many of the teams were weak for the want of food, the grass having been eat off by the buffalo; about 2,000 are now feeding a short distance from the road, almost every blade of grass being eat off close to the ground. We traveled about six miles, and encamped. The glass which was lost yesterday was found by a person sent back to search. The whole camp were called out and exercised in military tactics. Towards evening, some four or five persons went up the river a short distance, to view the country and search out a road; for since we left Loup Fork ford, we have had to make our own road. The company returned from exploring the road, having encountered no dangerous animals, with the exception of a pole cat, which they shot.
May 8th. At 5 o' clock this morning the barometer stood at 27.417 inch, attached thermometer at 37 deg., detached thermometer at 33 deg. N.N.W. wind. Weather fair. We travelled six miles this forenoon. I then took a meridian altitude of the sun for the latitude, which was found to be 40 deg. 58 min. 14 sec. In the afternoon travelled about five miles, and encamped for the night. Many of our animals are nearly famished for want of food, for every green thing is eat off by the buffalo; we have seen something near 100,000 since morning. During eight or ten days past, we have noticed large patches of the ground covered with effloresences of salt. The place or our encampment is some two or three miles above the lower end of Brady's Island, or where the bluffs for the first time make up to the river's side. These bluffs are sand hills, almost destitute of vegetation. On the top of some of these sand hills, in the driest places, grew a vegetable, the top of which very much resembled a pine apple; one being dug, the root was about one and a half inch in diameter, and two feet in length. It was called by some of the company, a Spanish soap weed. The roots being pounded up, they make a very good suds, and are used in Mexico for washing raiment, &c. The hills or bluffs on the opposite side of the river have increased in elevation, and present a more broken and picturesque appearance. At this season of the year, the buffalo are the most of them poor for the want of sufficient food; we have killed no more of them than what the present necessities of the camp require. The bones and carcasses of the buffalo have been more or less abundant since we left the Loup Fork, and among them is frequently found human bones, probably those of Indians; several human skulls have been discovered, which were whole and entire. Some scattering timber upon the islands, principally willow and cotton wood.
May 9th. This morning, at 7 o'clock. The barometer stood at 27.026 inch, attached thermometer 57 deg., detached thermometer 56 deg. The sky clear. A brisk wind from the south. We moved on about 4 miles, and encamped during the day (it being Sunday) upon a small island. Opposite the camp, there were a few cotton wood trees, the tops of which we cut off to feed our hungered teams, leaving the main body of the trees to grow for the benefit of others who might perchance pass this route. In many instances, upon this journey, our camp have, for the want of a better substitute, made their fires of the dry excrement of the buffalo, which burns something like dry turf. A meridian observation of the sun places us in latitude 41 deg. 0 min. 47 sec. In the afternoon, the camp were called together for public worship. They were addressed by several of the twelve. The wind has changed to the north, and blows high, rendering it cold and uncomfortable. The sky is principally overcast with clouds.
May 10th. This morning is cold, the barometer standing at 27.247 inch, attached thermometer 36 deg., detached thermometer 33 deg., with a moderate wind from the west; the sky thinly overspread with clouds. Large fires and overcoats are comfortable. Wind soon changed to the east. Before we left this morning, we wrote a letter addressed to the officers of our next camp, which will follow our track in about six or eight weeks. The letter was carefully secured from the weather, by sawing about five or six inches into a board, parallel to its surface. The board was about six inches wide, and eighteen inches long. The letter was deposited in the track made by the saw, and three cleets were respectively nailed upon the top and two sides, and after writing upon the board necessary directions, it was nailed to the end of a pole, four or five inches in diameter, and about fifteen feet in length, this pole was firmly set about five feet in the ground, near our road.
The camp left about 9 o'clock. Travelled about two miles N.N.W., and crossed a clear creek, about 15 feet wide. Soon after, a bay horse made its appearance, which seemed to be quite wild; some of the company gave chase for several miles, in hopes to capture it. It fled with great speed over the bluffs. We travelled about five and a half miles, where I took a meridian observation of the sun, from which I determined the latitude to be 41 deg. 2 min. 55 sec. The herds of buffalo are not as extensive here as some twenty miles east; they having eat out every blade of grass here, were evidently working their way eastward, down the river. The grass here has had some four or five days start since the majority left. But our animals yet find only a very scanty allowance, and many are almost ready to give out. The soil over which we have passed to-day, appears some better than usual, and the ground more moist. About one mile west of the place of my noon observation, we crossed a small creek. For several days past, Mr. [William] Clayton, and several others, have been thinking upon the best method of attaching some machinery to a wagon, to indicate the number of miles daily travelled, I was requested this forenoon, by Mr. B. Young, to give this subject some attention; accordingly, this afternoon, I proposed the following method:-Let a wagon wheel be of such a circumference, that 360 revolutions make one mile. (It happens that one of the requisite dimensions is now in camp.) Let this wheel act upon a screw, in such a manner, that six revolutions of the wagon wheel shall give the screw one revolution. Let the threads of this screw act upon a wheel of sixty cogs, which will evidently perform one revolution per mile. Let this wheel of sixty cogs, be the head of another screw, acting upon another wheel of cogs; it is evident that in the movements of this second wheel, each cog will represent one mile. Now, if the cogs were numbered from 0 to 30, the number of miles traveled will be indicated during every part of the day. Let every sixth cog, of the first wheel, be numbered from 0 to 10, and this division will indicated the fractional parts of a mile, or tenths; while if any one should be desirous to ascertain still smaller divisional fractions, each cog between this division, will give five and one-third rods. This machinery (which may be called the double endless screw) will be simple in its construction, and of very small bulk, requiring scarcely any sensible additional power, and the knowledge obtained respecting distances in travelling, will certainly be very satisfactory to every traveller, especially in a country, but little known. The weight of this machinery need not exceed three pounds.
We traveled in the afternoon about four and a half miles. The timber on the small islands, and on the shore of the river, is more plentiful than usual. In the deep ravines, between the hills on the opposite side of the river, there appears to be clumps of small timber, resembling in the distance cedar, or small pines.
May 11th. At 5 o'clock this morning, the barometer stood at 27.141, attached thermometer 38 deg., detached thermometer 35 deg. A light breeze from the east. The sky partially overspread with clouds. The wind soon changed into the south. I took the altitude of the sun for the true time, and regulated my watch. I started about one hour before the camp, accompanied with guards. The large kind of wolves are very frequent in this country; saw several this morning, also antelope and buffalo. Travelled about seven miles. Crossed the edge of the bluffs, which here make up to the river, but soon entered again the prairie bottoms. In about one mile from this point, crossed a clear stream of water, about fifteen feet wide, with a sandy hard bottom. The bottoms for miles are generally covered with saline efflorescences of a whitish colour. I traveled this forenoon about nine miles, and halted for noon. A meridian observation of the sun, gave for the latitude 41 deg. 7 min. 44 sec. We are a few miles above the junction of the north and south forks of the Nebraska or Platte. At one o'clock, p.m., the barometer stood at 27.125, attached thermometer 71 deg., detached thermometer 70 deg. The main camp came up within half a mile of my station, where they encamped for the night. I joined my carriage with the circle as usual. A well was dug at this place, and plenty of cold water obtained, about four feet below the surface.
A human skull was found about two miles east, the teeth were perfectly sound and well set in the jaw. This skull probably was the head of some Indain warrior, who might have fallen in one of the late battles between the Pawnees and Sioux, in which the latter were victorious. From some small scars upon the bone, it had the appearance of having been scalped.
May 12th. At five o'clock this morning, the barometer stood at 27.136, attached thermometer 44 deg., detached thermometer 41 deg., giving for the height of this place, above the level of the sea, 2685 feet. The wind blows moderately from the east-the sky clear. The wind changed during the day into the south. Mr. [William] Clayton, with the assistance of Mr. [Appleton Milo] Harman, a mechanic, constructed a machine and attached it to a wagon, to indicate the number of miles travelled. It is constructed upon the principle of the endless screw. By the mile machine we came this forenoon about six miles, when I took a meridian altitude of the sun, and determined the latitude to be 41 deg. 9 min. 44 sec. By various signs we discovered that a large party of Indians had recently been in this vicinity, which accounts for the immense herds of buffalo leaving this place and going down the river; buffalo have been scarce for two days past. The tract of land on the opposite side, between the two forks, appears to be very low and level from the point at the junction to some 18 or 20 miles west. The breadth of the bottoms varies between one and two miles; the timber upon the banks and islands is very scarce, consisting of willow and cottonwood. We travelled during the day eleven and a half miles, and encamped by the side of a clear stream of running water, about 15 feet wide. A number of small fish, called dace, were caught with hooks in this stream. The Indian horses and buffalo have left the grass rather short.
May 13th. At five o'clock this morning the barometer stood at 27.133, attached thermometer 50.5 degrees, detached thermometer 49 degrees. A brisk east wind, the sky overspread with thick clouds. The wind soon changed in the N.E., accompanied with a depression of temperature, rendering it cold during the day. The camp left about nine o'clock, traveled four miles, and halted to let the teams feed. The clouds broke away about noon, which enabled me to get an observation of the sun's altitude, which determined the latitude to be 41 deg. 12 min. 33 sec. Our course to day has been nearly west. In the afternoon we crossed a clear stream of running water, sandy bottom, six and three-quarter miles from our noon halt; and five miles from the last stream, we crossed a river about 12 rods in width. At our ford, the deepest place did not exceed two feet. The bottom was composed of quicksand, in which several teams were set; other teams were sent to their assistance, and we soon all passed over. It is necessary in fording streams with quicksand bottoms, to keep the wagons all the time in motion, for the moment they are stopped they begin to sink in the sand, and require considerable force to extricate them. We camped on the right side of this river, about 100 rods from its entrance into the north fork of the Platte. The general course of this river for two or three miles from its confluence with the north fork, is nearly north and south. Its waters bear the same roily muddy appearance as the Platte. It proceeds from between the bluffs about one mile from its mouth. About one mile west of our encampment the bluffs make up to the river, producing a high precipitous bank.
May 14th. At five o'clock this morning the barometer stood at 27.175, attached thermometer 41.5 degrees, detached thermometer 38.8 degrees. The wind still continues in the N.E. The sky is thickly overspread with clouds, while distant thunder in the west denotes rain. About eight or nine o'clock we were visited with a light shower. The wind changed to the E.S.E. Our animals suffered considerably by the cold. About eleven the camp started, being obliged to take a winding circuitous route, over and among the Sandy Bluffs, three or four miles, when we again entered the prairie bottoms. I ascended some of the highest of these hills, where a beautiful and extended prospect opened on every side. On the north, the surface of the country exhibited a broken succession of hills and ravines, very much resembling the tumultuous confusion of ocean waves, when rolling and tumbling in all directions by violent and contrary winds. On the east, the low level valley of the two forks of the Platte was visible to the junction, while the high peaks far below were distinctly seen resembling blueish clouds just rising in the distant horizon. On the south, the chain of bluffs beyond the south fork, stretched itself, apparently in one unbroken though gently undulating ridge, visible in extent from 30 to 40 miles, while the glistening waters of that river were here and there sweeping along its base. The bottom lands between the two forks continue in one unbroken level from the junction 18 or 20 miles west, where they gradually arise into broken hills, forming the high lands between these two affluents, which are here about six miles asunder. On the west, the roily yellow waters of the north fork were making their way over and between innumerable beds of quicksand, while the rich, level, green, grassy bottoms upon each side, formed a beautiful contrast, extending for miles in length. Here and there small herds of buffalo were grazing upon the hills and in the valleys, and all seemed to conspire to render the scenery interesting and delightful. To-day we travelled eight and tree-quarter miles, and encamped for the night. During the evening, as usual, the animating sounds of music, in different parts of the camp, seemed to break gently in upon the surrounding solitudes of these uninhabited regions. Indians have discovered our camp, and are lurking around for the purpose of stealing our horses; during the night, one was perceived by the guard creeping towards the camp upon his hands and feet; he was fired upon, and immediately arose and ran.
May 15th. The weather still remains cold; detached thermometer standing at half-past six at 49 degrees, barometer at 26.952, attached thermometer at 50.5 degrees. A moderate wind from the north. Thick clouds overspread the sky. The most of the forenoon was rainy. We again set out upon our westward course, when three-quarters of a mile brought us to the Sandy Bluffs, where we were again obliged to wend our way through the sand for three-quarters of a mile, when we descended upon the bottoms-crossed a small stream of swiftly running water, proceeding from springs among the hills; and finding an abundance of good grass, we halted for noon. The rain ceased about eleven. Fresh tracks of Indians were discovered in the sand. It is their custom frequently to follow emigrants hundreds of miles, keeping themselves secreted during the day, and watching the best opportunities for stealing during the night. Our wagons are generally organized in the circumference of a circle-a forward wheel of one locked into the hind wheel of another, forming a circular fortification, in the interior of which our houses are well secured during the night, while the whole camp is strongly guarded by a sufficient number of men. During the day, while our teams are grazing, about fourteen men usually encircle them on all sides, to prevent them from straying or being suddenly frightened away in case of any sudden incursions of Indians, accompanied by their horrid yells, which they frequently practice on purpose to scatter the horses and cattle of emigrants, and afterwards hunt them themselves at their leisure; and in case small parties of two or three go in search of them, they are sometimes fallen upon and robbed of their clothing, and of their saddle horses, if they have any. If they are so fortunate as to escape with their lives, they return to camp naked and in a sad forlorn condition. These are scenes which have frequently befallen the adventurer in these savage and inhospitable wilds. Herds of buffalo are rather more numerous than for a few days past; deer, antelope, geese, ducks, &c., are still plentiful, and our hunters generally supply the whole camp with all the meat required. We encamped for the night, after having travelled but seven miles. No timber for several days, flood-wood and buffalo excrement have been our fuel.
May 16th. At five o'clock this morning (Sunday) the barometer stood at 27.155, attached thermometer at 43.5 degrees, detached thermometer 41.5 degrees. The sky is partially overspread with clouds, with a light north-west wind. Some frost last night. A partial observation of the sun about noon, gave for the latitude 41 deg. 12 min. 30 sec. In the morning obtained an observation for time. I intended to have taken a lunar distance, but was prevented by the haziness of the atmosphere. Our teams have rested to-day. Although within a quarter of a mile of the river, yet four or five wells have been dug near the camp; abundance of good water within four feet of the surface. In the afternoon the people met for public worship.
May 17th. At half past five o'clock this morning, the barometer stood at 27.073, attached thermometer 39.8 degrees, detached 37.8 degrees. A moderate west wind, with clear sky. One and three-quarter miles brought us to the bluffs, where we were the third time compelled to ascend gradually through the sand; and after about three-quarters of a mile, descend again upon the bottoms. On the east edge of these bluffs we crossed a rapid stream, about eight feet in width. We travelled during the forenoon six and three-quarter miles, and by the reflecting circle determined the latitude to be 41 deg. 12 min. 50 sec. Twelve and three-quarter miles has been our distance to-day, and we have passed over quite a number of small clear streams with sandy bottoms, and the prairie in places has been somewhat wet, affording a luxuriant growth of grass. This afternoon took the altitude of the sun for the time--the altitude of the pole star gave for the latitude of our encampment 41 deg. 13 min. 20 sec.
May 18th. At five o'clock this morning the barometer stood at 26.780, attached thermometer 40.5 degrees, detached thermometer 37.8 degrees. The morning calm and clear. I regulated my watch by observation with the sextant. A short distance below Cedar Bluffs we this forenoon crossed a rapid stream, about twenty feet wide, which we called Rattlesnake Creek, from the circumstance of having discovered near its banks a large rattlesnake. This forenoon we travelled six and a half miles, which brought us opposite the upper end of Cedar Bluffs, which are on the south side of the Platte. These bluffs make up to the river, and are thinly covered with small cedars. In the bluffs on the south side of the river, for a few miles, appear to be some rock formation. By a meridian altitude of the sun, the latitude of our noon halt was found to be 41 deg. 13 min. 44 sec. We encamped for the night, nine and three-quarters miles above the Cedar Bluffs. During the afternoon thunder showers have passed around us in various directions, accompanied with some wind from different quarters. We had an east wind during the night with some rain. Strata of rocks begin to make their appearance in the bluffs upon this side of the river. They are of the limestone formation.
May 19th. This morning, the grass being poor, we moved on early, traveled three miles and halted about six o'clock for breakfast. There are two small streams to cross near this place. At half-past six the barometer stood at 26.710, attached thermometer 56 deg., detached thermometer 55 deg. The sky is thickly overspread with clouds-wind east, with rain, which continued during the day without much cessation, and accompanied with some thunder. One and a half mile from our breakfast halt brought us again to where the river sweeps the bluffs, at the eastern edge of which we crossed a stream which we called Wolf Creek, about twenty feet wide. We crossed over these bluffs three-quarters of a mile, and descended upon the bottoms, where we again crossed a small stream. On account of the rain we halted three-quarters of a mile west of the bluffs. Towards evening we traveled on in the rain two miles further. Our whole distance traveled to-day is only eight miles.
May 20th. At five o'clock this morning the barometer stood at 26.821, attached thermometer 47.5 degrees, detached thermometer 45 degrees. A moderate west wind, while thick clouds overspread the sky. In about three-quarters of a mile crossed a stream about eight feet wide, with considerable depth. This forenoon we traveled seven and three-quarter miles, and halted for noon directly opposite the place where the Oregon road strikes the north fork. Four of us launched our boat and crossed over, being obliged to drag it the most of the way over shoals of quicksands. We found the grave of one of the Oregon emigrants, buried last summer, near the foot of the bluffs, which here make up near the river. These bluffs are composed principally of horizontal strata of limestone, and are thinly covered here and there with some scattering cedars. The Oregon road comes in through an opening in the bluffs, in which there is some ash timber, (from which circumstance it is called Ash Creek or Ash Hollow,) also mountain cherry, and wild currants. We soon re-crossed the river which is here about one-third of a mile wide; generally speaking the river bottoms are wider, and the bluffs not so elevated on the north as on the south side of the river. For two days the clouds and the unsettled state of the weather have prevented taking astronomical observations for latitudes and longitudes. A short distance below our noon halt, we passed a lonely cedar tree, upon the north bank of the river, in the branches of which were deposited the remains of an Indian child, with which were also deposited the necessary equipments (according the Indian traditions) to a future land of enjoyment. The grave (if it may be called such) was as solitary as the tree. This afternoon, three and a quarter miles from our noon halt, crossed a creek with about an average width of five rods, from one and a half to two feet deep. We travelled to-day fifteen and three quarter miles and encamped for the night.
May 21st. At half past five o'clock the barometer stood at 26.871, attached thermometer 48 degrees, detached thermometer 46 degrees. A light wind from the north. The clouds are beginning to break away, exhibiting in places a deep blue sky. The prairie over which we passed to-day has been somewhat wet, on account of the rain that has fallen in the last few days. The surface of the river bottoms in most places consists of clay intermingled with sand. This morning, from an altitude of the sun, I deduced the true time. We traveled this forenoon seven and three-quarter miles, and halted for noon. I took an altitude of the sun, from which I determined the latitude to be 41 deg. 24 min. 5 sec. By an altitude of the moon, obtained the true time. During the afternoon we found upon the prairie a large bone which was petrified, belonging, probably, to the mammoth or some other species; it was the leg bone, from the knee downwards-length 17 1/2 inches, greatest width 11 inches, greatest thickness 6 inches; its weight was 27 lbs. After some had been broken from it. It is a curious specimen of ancient zoology, and if circumstances would permit, worthy of preservation. Our camp was visited by two or three Indians towards evening; they appeared friendly, and gave us to understand that a large number of them were encamped near us, some of whom we could see with our glasses, some one or two miles distant-they are probably Sioux. We travelled fifteen and a half miles to day. Nothing more of interest occurred during the night.
May 22nd. At a quarter past five this morning, the barometer stood at 26.623, attached thermometer 51.5 degrees, detached thermometer 48.5 degrees. A light breeze from the south-the sky partially overspread with thin clouds. This morning a large dog came near our camp, and followed us at a distance during the day; he appears to be almost wild, but by placing meat in a position that he will afterwards find, it seems to entice him to follow us: bread he will not eat: he seems to care but little for the largest of our dogs, and when they come near him, he snaps very spitefully at them, after the manner of the wolf. His head and ears appear somewhat of the form of a wolf, and no doubt he is tinctured with the wolf blood. Five and half miles from our morning encampment we crossed a stream, which we named Crab Creek; one and three-quarters mile further we halted for noon. A meridian observation of the sun placed us in latitude 41 deg. 30 min. 3 sec. I intended to have taken a lunar distance for the longitude, but clouds prevented. With our glasses, Chimney Rock can now be seen at a distance of 42 miles up the river. At this distance it appears like a short tower placed upon an elevated mound or hill. Four and a quarter miles further brought us to another place where the river strikes the bluffs; as usual we were obliged to pass over them, and in about two and a quarter miles we again came to the prairie bottoms, and driving a short distance we encamped, having made fifteen and a half miles during the day. For a number of miles past, the formation, more particularly that of the bluffs, has been gradually changing from sand to marl and soft earthy limestone, the nature of which is beginning to change the face of the country, presenting scenes of remarkable picturesque beauty. The winds and rain have worked the bluffs at this place into many curious forms, some of which resemble cones or pyramids, others exhibiting perpendicular and shelving sides, from 150 to 200 feet above the base, some standing alone, others in a continuous ridge-upper surfaces of some, presenting a level of greater or less extent solidified into a soft earthy limestone, while their perpendicular sides exhibit strata of marl yet in its earthly state. I ascended several of these curiously shaped bluffs. Now and then a straggling cedar crowned their tops, standing solitary and alone. The grass upon and near the base of these bluffs seemed to be entirely dry and parched up by droughts or severe frosts, yet quite a variety of flowers seemed to flourish, as though they had found their appropriate soil; many of these emitted the sweetest odours, which, together with their beauty and variety of colour, would grace the gardens of our eastern horticulturists. In this vicinity there are quite a number of smaller mounds or hills, the surfaces of which consist of a great variety of cobble stone of different magnitudes and shapes. From between these bluffs issued the dry sandy beds of several creeks, without water, some of which were 40 or 50 yards across. On the top of one of these bluffs, in the braches of a small cedar, a bald eagle's nest was discovered, having one young in it; it was, notwithstanding the cries of the old ones, taken from the nest and carried into camp, and although it has not yet reached its growth, it measures between the tip of its wings 46 inches. A heavy thunder shower passed around us this afternoon; all the inconveniences suffered from it was, only from the frequent and sudden gusts of wind. The amount of a cavern was discovered in one of these bluffs, but having no torches it was not explored, only for a few feet at its entrance.
May 23rd. Sunday. To-day, as usual, we let ourselves and teams rest. The mercury in the barometer is, this morning, much more depressed than what can be accounted for by our gradual ascent; at five o'clock it stood at 26.191, attached thermometer 54.5 deg., detached thermometer 52 deg. A depression of the mercury is said to indicate high winds. To-day several of us again visited the tops of the some of these bluffs, and by a barometrical measurement I ascertained the height of one them to be 235 feet above the river, and 3590 feet above the level of the sea. Following the example of several of our company, I engraved my name upon the body of a lonely cedar, (where I observed the barometer), together with the altitude of the bluff. Rattlesnakes are very plentiful here, and within a few rods of this tree, one of our men, Nathaniel Fairbanks, was bitten by a large yellow one, and although remedies were soon applied, yet he suffered considerably during the day. Soon after dinner we attended public worship, when the people were interestingly and intelligently addressed by President B. Young and others-Many petrified bones were found in this region. The latitude of our camp was 41 deg. 33 min. 3 sec., as determined from a meridian observation of the sun. At half-past eleven o'clock the temperature of the air was 82 deg., while the barometer continued falling. At about seven o'clock p.m., we were visited by a great thunder storm, the wind having changed to the north, blew a violent gale from that quarter; abundance of rain, mixed with hail from so cold a quarter, rendered both ourselves and animals uncomfortable. The wind continued very high during the night.
May 24th. At six o'clock this morning a few flakes of snow descended. The barometer stood at 26.433, attached thermometer 40 deg., detached ther. 38 deg., showing a considerable change both in the weight and temperature of the air since yesterday morning, giving for the height of our camp above the level of the sea 3370 feet. About eight o'clock we took our leave of this interesting region, which on account of its curious shapes and picturesque appearance, we named Bluff Ruins. The forenoon continued cloudy. At our noon halt our camp was visited by two Indians. By signs they gave us to understand that their tribe was a small distance from the river on the opposite side. We gave them some dinner, after which we pointed out to them the dog which came to us last week, and continued to follow us at a distance, but he appeared to be as shy of Indians as of white men. They forded the river, being on foot. Nothing of interest occurred during our afternoon's travel. We encamped early after making 16 1/2 miles. The two Indians who crossed the river, notified their party of our approach. They came to the river and forded it on horseback. They were 35 in number, including a few squaws and boys, being much better dressed than the Indians on the frontiers, many of them wearing broadcloth, blankets, and fur caps, ornamented with an abundance of beads and other ornaments, having bows and steel-pointed arrows, together with some fire-arms. They were the Dacotah [Dakota] tribe, which, interpreted, signifies cut throat, but generally known to whites by the name of Sioux. Their chief's name was Owastote-cha, who soon after dark sent his men a distance from the camp to lodge, while he himself requested the privilege of staying with us over night. We granted him the privilege, and spread a tent for his accommodation.
May 25th. A hard frost last night, and at 5 1/2 o'clock the barometer stood at 26.350, attached thermometer 40 deg., detached thermometer 35.8 deg. The morning is calm with a beautiful clear sky. We fed the whole company of Indians both last night and this morning. They appear very friendly, and have a written recommendation in the French language, from Mr. Papan, one of the agents of the American Fur Company. They brought with them the U.S. flag. We travelled five and a quarter miles, when I halted a few moments to take the sun's meridian, which gave the latitude 41 deg. 41 min. 46 sec. We travelled seven miles further in the afternoon, and encamped for the night a few miles east of the meridian of Chimney Rock . I here took a lunar distance for the longitude; also, by an imperfect trigonometrical measurement with the sextant, at the distance of about 3 miles, Chimney Rock appeared to be about 260 feet in altitude. Musquitoes are troublesome this evening. On account of the late rains the ground has been quite wet during the day. The soil being of a soft marly formation, causes the water to stand in ponds and pools, which have been numerous for 15 or 20 miles, making a good harbour for frogs, which by their music seem to enjoy themselves much.
May 26th. At seven o'clock this morning, the barometer shows 26.149, attached thermometer 58 deg., detached thermometer 56 deg. The morning is calm and clear. In about four and three-quarter miles we arrived at the meridian of Chimney Rock, our road being about three miles to the north of it. The Platte valley is here about 3790 feet above the level of the sea. Two and a quarter miles further and we came to a halt, altitude 41 deg. 45 min. 58 sec. The variation of the compass, as ascertained by the sextant, is 12 deg. east. In the afternoon travelled five miles and encamped for the night. The prairie still wet; grass a little better than usual. Grasshoppers seem to be an inhabitant of this country: I noticed that there were plenty in dry places. Prickly pears are becoming more numerous. There is no timber on this side of the river, and we are dependent altogether on flood-wood, which is also very scarce, and buffalo excrement, which is also diminishing in quantity as we go west. No buffalo seen for several days; antelope yet plentiful. The sky overspread with clouds. Wind north-east and some few drops of rain about sun down. Endeavored to get some astronomical observations during the evening, but clouds prevented.
May 27th. At half-past five o'clock the barometer showed 26.078, attached thermometer 56 deg., detached thermometer 53 deg. The morning calm-sky clear. Some dew deposited during the night. A trigonometrical measurement with the sextant gives the width of the river at this place 792 yards. From our last night's camping place, we journeyed 12 miles, which brought us to the meridian of the highest peak of Scott's Bluffs, nearest to the river on the south side. By a meridian observation of the sun, I determined the latitude of the north end of these bluffs to be 41 deg. 50 min. 52 sec. We travelled one and three-quarters of a mile from the meridian of these bluffs, when perceiving a heavy thunder shower approaching from the north west, we concluded to camp for the night. One characteristic of all the showers in this country with which we have been visited, is the great winds with which they are accompanied, rushing in fitful and violent gusts, but yet of short duration. To-day, the bottoms near the river have looked refreshingly green, affording a luxuriant herbage for our animals. As you recede from the river, the bottoms assume a more sterile aspect-they produce but little grass or vegetation, with the exception of the prickly pear, which here flourishes in great abundance. The roads this afternoon have been quite dusty, showing that the late rains with which we were visited some forty miles below, did not extend west as far as this. To-day saline efflorescences have again made their appearance in considerable abundance. The bluffs on the opposite side of the river exhibit themselves in a great variety of forms, presenting scenes remarkably picturesque and interesting in their appearance. There can be seen towers and castles of various forms and heights; perpendicular walls, some of whose outlines are circular, others rectilineal. Deep notches, both semicircular and rectangular, seem to be excavated in their summits. Many of these scenes closely resemble the artificial works of man thrown partially into disorder and confusion by some great convulsion of nature. The shower passed to the north, giving us but a slight dash of rain.
May 28th. At six the barometer stood at 26.048, attached thermometer 53 deg. detached thermometer 52 deg. The morning is rainy with a moderate south-east wind. About eleven o'clock we resumed our journey. The rain having ceased, the wind has changed more into the north-east, and thick heavy clouds overspread the sky. We made 11 1/2 miles during the day, over a soil barren and sterile, according to its present aspect. A very few scattering trees were seen on the opposite side of the river, of what kind we could not tell in the distance; they were, I believe, the first seen for several days, with the exception of small cedars or pines, which are thinly scattered over and upon the sides of the bluffs, more particularly those on the south side of the river. Small hillocks or ant-hills are numerous; they consist of small pebbles or gravel, accumulated with great industry from the neighbouring soil. Mingled with these were found, in different places, small Indian beads, which these insects had collected to beautify and adorn their habitations, I say collected, for it cannot be supposed that they were a home manufacture of their own ingenuity. The air in places has been much perfumed by an herb, called by some "southern wood," which grows in large quantities, generally preferring, with the prickly pear, a dry barren soil. Dandelions, pig-weed, pepper-grass, dock, and various other plants common to the east, are to be seen in this country. The prickly pear has a very good flavour, and with sugar makes a very good substitute for fruit.
May 29th. The forenoon has been rainy; wind still in the east. At 10 1/2 o'clock the barometer stood at 26.105, attached thermometer 49.7 deg., detached thermometer 48.5 deg. About noon the people were called together and addressed by several of the Twelve upon the necessity of a prayerful, faithful, and upright course before the Lord; and instead of spending time in idleness and vanity, to lay up a store of useful knowledge from every thing that was seen and heard. About one o'clock p.m., we resumed our journey, and traveled eight and a half miles. No grass of any consequence except near small streams, one of which, about 12 feet wide, runs near our camp. A little to the east of this our road passed near the bluffs, in which we saw some soft grayish sandstone: many of the hills consist of large quantities of cobble stone. One of the sandstone rocks projected from the bluffs, very much resembling the stern of a steam boat, and from this circumstance I called it BOAT ROCK. This evening a thunder shower passed over.
May 30th. Sunday. To-day we appointed as a day of fasting and prayer: the people met in prayer-meeting in the forenoon, and in the afternoon some preaching and exhortation. In the course of the day, the Twelve, with some others, made two excursions among the bluffs, where we all called upon the Lord. At eight o'clock a.m., the barometer stood at 25.974 attached thermometer 62 deg., detached thermometer 64 deg.; the morning calm, and the clouds breaking away, the deep blue sky is seen in places. Towards evening a thunder shower; and just as I was retiring to rest, there came up another small shower of rain from the west. The moon shone in brightness in the east, being about half an hour above the horizon, and by the refraction of its mild rays through the falling drops, it produced a beautiful lunar rainbow in the west, but little inferior in brightness to a solar rainbow. Chimney Rock, though forty miles distant, can be seen from the bluffs, while the lowering peaks of the Black Hills, west of Laramie, present themselves like blue clouds stationary in the horizon.
May 31st. At five a.m., the barometer stood at 25.955, attached thermometer 38 deg., detached thermometer 35.8 deg. A very gentle breeze from the north west, with a clear blue sky and a frosty carpet of grass, renders the morning serene and pleasant. We travelled nine miles this forenoon, and halted about one and a half miles from the bank of the river, lat. 42 deg. 4 min. 30 sec., and in the afternoon travelled seven and three-quarter miles further and encamped by the side of a stream of water about one rod wide, shallow, and having a swift current. The bottom a mixture of gravel and sand; the water having the same muddy, yellow colour as that in the Platte. The most of our journey to-day has been over a sandy soil, with but little vegetation, making it very laborious and fatiguing to our animals. The monotony of the landscape has been somewhat relieved by a few straggling cotton-wood trees, and larger quantities of willow than usual.
June 1st. At twenty minutes past five the barometer stood at 25.794, attached thermometer 45 deg., detached thermometer 42 deg. The morning calm and clear. We travelled five and a half miles and halted directly opposite or north of an old trading post, situated on the right bank of the north fork. This trading post is now in ruins-some few chimneys yet standing. Latitude of left bank 42 deg. 9 min. 24 sec. In the afternoon travelled six and a half miles, which brought us opposite Fort Platte, or about 40 rods below, where we encamped, making 227 1/2 miles above the junction of the north and south forks. Fort Platte is situated on the right bank of the north fork, and about half a mile from its junction with the Laramie fork. This fort is now vacated and is fast crumbling to ruins. Its exterior dimensions are 103 by 144 feet, and 11 feet in height, being built of clay or unburnt brick. Fort Laramie is situated on the left bank of Laramie fork about one and a half mile from its confluence with the North Fork. Its walls are built of clay or unburnt brick, being about 15 feet high, and of a rectangular construction, measuring on the exterior 116 by 168 feet. Ranges of houses are built in the interior adjoining the walls, leaving a central yard of above 100 feet square. This post belongs to the American Fur Company, and is now occupied by about eighteen men with their families, under the charge of Mr. Boudeau.
June 2nd. This morning, I intended to have taken a lunar observation for the longitude, but clouds prevented. The day is calm, sky thinly overspread with clouds. Thermometer at six a.m., 52 deg. Soon after our arrival last evening we were visited by some of our people from the fort. They had been waiting with their families for us a few days, intending to cross the mountains with us. They had wintered, with a larger company of the church at Pueblo, about 250 miles to the south. They were from the south part of Illinois and the southern states. From these we obtained some information in relation to the welfare of a portion of our battalion who enlisted last July in the service of the United States against Mexico. This detachment was stationed during the winter at Pueblo, and it was expected that they would be ordered to march this summer to Upper California by the way of Fort Laramie and the South Pass. By a small party from Fort Bridger on the other side of the South Pass, we learned that two weeks since the snow was several feet deep on the Sweet Water and among the mountains. They were obliged to leave their wagons in charge of a portion of their company, and rush through with their horses to this place, in order to find grass to sustain them: the most of them had just left on their return for their wagons. The North Fork at this our encampment is 108 yards wide, being deeper than usual. Though the bottom is gravel, it is, at this stage too deep to be forded. With a sextant and an artificial horizon, I , in company with several others, crossed over the North Fork in our skiff of sole leather, and walked up to Fort Laramie. We were kindly received and seated in a neat comfortable apartment, and after a social and cheerful chat with Mr. Boudeau and others, we walked down to see his flat boat, which we engaged at the reasonable price of 15 dollars, to ferry our wagons across, as traveling further upon the left bank of the North Fork, would, if not altogether impracticable, be attended with much difficulty. The breadth of the Laramie fork near the fort, is 41 yards. By a meridian altitude of the sun, I determined the latitude of Fort Laramie to be 42 deg. 12 min. 13 sec., differing from Capt. Fremont only 3 sec. of a degree, or about 18 rods. By a mean of several barometrical observations during our short stay of three days, the height of the fort above the level of the sea was calculated to be 4090 feet. On account of Indian aggressions and the great droughts to which this country is subject, agriculture is entirely neglected-they are dependent on the buffalo for meat, and on the States for articles of produce. Mr. Boudeau informed us that the Crow Indians were in the habit of making annual excursions to the fort, and stealing all the horses and mules they could lay their hands upon. Some few weeks before our arrival they had succeeded in stealing all their horses and mules to the number of twenty-four; and in the course of a few years they had stolen upwards of 200 horses from them. The timber in this region is scarce, consisting of some few ash and cotton wood. With a net, which we had with us, we caught some pike-fish.
June 3rd. The morning is cloudy, with a high south east wind, thermometer standing at five o'clock at 51.5 deg. We commenced ferrying across the north fork early in the morning, averaging about four wagons an hour. Yesterday afternoon we saw with our glasses three or four white men coming in on horseback they were on the opposite side of the Platte and soon arrived at the fort. This morning brought us the news that they were from the States, having made the journey in seventeen days, passing about 2,000 wagons in detached companies on their way to Oregon. One small company is expected in to-morrow, another larger the next day, and one still larger the day following. We understand that these emigrants are principally from Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. Many other companies were making preparations to leave the frontiers soon after these gentlemen left. The tide of emigration seems to be on the increase. M. Boudeau informed us that they had had little or no rain here for two years, until of late. This afternoon we were visited by a thunder storm from the west accompanied with high wind and hail.
June 4th. This morning at six o'clock the temperature of the air was at 54 deg., with a gentle breeze from the north-west. The sky was partially cloudy; and after regulating my watch by an altitude of the sun, I again visited the Fort, and ascended the tower which is built over the main entrance of the Fort, from which I took the angular distance of the sun and moon, and from a mean of six sights with the sextant, determined the longitude to be 104 deg. 11 min. 53 sec. Our wagons being safely ferried across, about twelve o'clock we resumed our journey following the Oregon road near the North Fork. The formation of the bluffs was of a soft fine sandstone. We travelled three miles, and finding good feed turned our animals loose to graze a short time. The soil is sandy, and we were obliged to wind our way over the bluffs, making it quite laborious on the teams. We occasionally met with some scattering trees of cotton wood and ash. We made to-day 8 1/4 miles, and encamped, soon after descending a very steep hill, upon the river bottom. Soon after stopping we were visited by another thunder shower.
June 5th. At five o'clock the barometer stood at 25.715, attached thermometer 54 deg. detached thermometer 51 deg. The morning calm and cloudy; some slight showers of rain during the day. We resumed our journey and soon entered the dry bed of a stream, and continued up the same for some distance, till at length we reached a copious stream of water, which a short distance below was lost in the sand. We followed this stream to its fountain, where it issues from the left bank. The name is "Warm Spring;" the water is not so cold as one would expect. The quantity is nearly sufficient to carry a common flour mill, being very clear. By our road it is 15 miles from the junction of Laramie river and North Fork. Its latitude, as determined by a meridian observation of the sun, is 42 deg. 15 min. 6 sec. While our cattle were grazing here, a small company of Oregon emigrants, consisting of eleven wagons, came in a-head of us, having taken another branch of the road leading from Laramie, and intersecting our road a short distance above the spring. A short distance from this spring, and on the opposite side, we saw an old lime-kiln, where probably lime had been procured for the uses of the Fort. The bluffs in its neighbourhood were principally of a soft limestone formation, and on the right bank it rose to a considerable height. In the afternoon traveled 10 1/2 miles, and encamped about half a mile west of the little company of Oregon emigrants. From the left bank, by the side of the road, issued a clear and cold spring of water. The grass is very good. Timber much more plentiful than below Laramie. It consists of ash, cotton wood, willows, and box elder in low places, with mountain cherry, wild currants, pine, and cedar thinly scattered upon the bluffs. The wild sage grows in great quantities, and increases in size as the country increases in elevation. The wild flourishes in great abundance. The principal herbs and plants of this elevated region are highly odoriferous, perfuming the atmosphere with their fragrance. A thunder shower passed over just after sundown.
June 6th. It being Sunday, the forenoon was dedicated to fasting, prayer, and exhortation. In the afternoon traveled five miles and encamped. About noon we had a heavy thunder shower from the west. Our course has been nearly west along the bank of the stream on which we camped last night. About noon another company of 21 Oregon wagons passed us. The two companies are now encamped near us upon each side.
June 7th. At five o'clock the barometer stood at 24.998, attached thermometer 48 deg., detached thermometer 44 deg. The morning is calm and partially cloudy. A heavy dew deposited during the night. In the forenoon travelled 7 3/4 miles without water, and halted to noon by the side of a small spring, latitude 42 deg. 21 min. 51 sec. This forenoon we have gained in elevation very fast. Laramie Peak, about 12 or 15 miles to the south-west, shows from this position to good advantage. Its top is whitened with snow, that acts the part of a condenser upon the vapour of the atmosphere which comes within its vicinity, generating clouds which are precipitated in showers upon the surrounding country. This peak has been visible to our camp for eight or ten days, and I believe that almost every afternoon since, we have been visited with thunder showers, which seem to originate in the vicinity of this peak. I intended to have taken its distance from the road, together with its altitude, by means of the sextant, but circumstances prevented. Another new company of Oregon emigrants, consisting of 13 wagons, passed us during our noon halt. In the afternoon we traveled 5 1/4 miles, mostly descending, and encamped on the bottoms of "Horse Shoe Creek," by the side of a large and very excellent spring of clear cold water. Here we found a more luxuriant growth of grass than we had seen upon our journey. The timber is cotton wood, willow, ash, and box elder; considerable quantities of pine grow on the higher grounds. Another heavy thunder shower, just after we camped, from the direction of Laramie Peak. The roads have been somewhat rough, on account of the large quantities of stone which are scattered over the surface of the uplands.
June 8th. At a quarter past six o'clock the barometer showed 24.957, attached thermometer 54.5 deg. detached thermometer 53 deg. The morning calm; sky partially covered with clouds, but a clear blue sky in the west indicates a pleasant day. This forenoon we saw a buffalo, the first we have seen for upwards of 200 miles. Black tailed deer and antelope are the principal game of the country. We travelled 6 3/4 miles, and halted for noon latitude 42 deg. 29 min. 58 sec. In the afternoon travelled 8 3/4 miles, which brought us to Labent, or Big Timber Creek. We encamped upon the left bank. This creek is about 30 feet wide, 20 inches deep, with a stony gravelly bottom. Our road to-day has been quite hilly. The Black Hills range on our left, which, with their broken ragged cliffs and conical peaks, form a scenery grand and interesting. From the most elevated positions of our road we had an extensive view of the surrounding country. On the north and east the landscape stretched out for 30 or 40 miles in a succession of gentle hills and vallies. About one mile from our encampment a small company of wagons, loaded with peltries and furs from Fort Bridger, on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, were encamped. They were going to Fort Laramie, being the same mentioned above. There is considerable timber fringing all the small streams in these parts.
June 9th. At half-past four o'clock the barometer stood at 25.230, attached thermometer 47 deg., detached thermometer 44 deg. A moderate west wind, with a clear sky, renders the morning serene and pleasant. We started about sunrise and travelled about one mile to find better grass, where we stopped for breakfast. We have made 19 1/4 miles to-day. Crossed a stream in the forenoon about 20 feet wide, called "Little Timber," and finding the banks rather steep as we descended into the stream, we soon bettered them with our spades, hoes, and pick-axes. We think that we fully work our road tax, for we have ten or twelve men detached daily, whose business it is to go in advance of the company with spades, iron bars, and other necessary implements to work the road; moreover, we have measured the road with our mile machine, and placed mile boards for every 10 miles since we left Laramie. About one mile before camping we crossed a small stream. We encamped to-night on the right bank of a creek about 24 feet wide, called "A la Parele." The grass on the bottoms of this stream is very good. The timber about the same in quantity and kind as described on former streams in this country. Just above the camp this stream runs through a mountain, which forms a natural bridge. Our road this forenoon passed over a red clay formation. Numerous strata of rocks appeared, in various directions, of the same red argillaceous formation. Three men with 15 horses, the most of them carrying packs, passed us to-day. They were from Santa Fe, and bound for St. Francisco in Upper California, by the way of the Great Salt Lake. We observed some few stalks of wild flax to-day in blossom, the first that we have seen.
June 10th. At six o'clock the barometer stood at 25.032, attached thermometer 57 deg., detached thermometer 57.8 deg. The morning is calm, with a beautiful clear sky. Considerable dew deposited during the night. Eight miles and three quarters brought us to a stream about 20 feet wide, called "Fourche Boise" [River] latitude 42 deg. 51 min. 5 sec. We halted here for noon. A few miles brought us on to the Platte bottoms. The rock in the bluffs at this place would make excellent grindstones, being a fine grit sandstone. Nine miles from our noon halt brought us to Deer Creek, about 60 feet wide and two feet deep: coarse gravel or pebble stone bottom. We encamped on the left bank. On the right bank, and about three quarters of a mile from our ford, we found an extensive bed of bituminous coal of a superior quality. There is considerable cotton wood on this creek: it grows large and tall. Latitude of the mouth of Deer Creek, 42 deg. 52 min. 50 sec., as given by the meridian altitude of Aretarus.
June 11th. At half-past four o'clock the barometer stood at 25.077, attached thermometer 50 deg., detached thermometer 46 deg., giving for the elevation above the level of the sea 4864 feet. The morning is fine and pleasant, with a beautiful clear sky and a light breeze from the east. The wind soon changed to the west. We traveled 9 3/4 miles in the forenoon, and halted for noon, latitude 42 deg. 51 min. 47 sec. Half a mile west of our halting place we crossed a small creek of roily water. Travelled in the afternoon 7 1/4 miles, and encamped for the night. A short distance above us, two small companies which had passed us a few days before, were encamped; they were building a raft to cross at that place. The day before their teams took a fright by the running of a horse, upsetting two of their wagons; one woman and two children considerably injured, but no bones broken: some crockery, &c. destroyed.
June 12th. At half-past five o'clock the barometer stood at 24.978, attached thermometer 51.5 deg., detached thermometer 47.5 deg. Calm and clear, with considerable dew. Travelled 7 1/4 miles and halted for noon, latitude 42 deg. 51 min. 44 sec. In the afternoon travelled four miles, which brought us to the place where the Oregon road crosses the Platte, being 124 miles from Fort Laramie. The Platte at this place is usually forded, but now it is quite high. The channel has about 15 feet depth of water in it, and the water about 100 yards wide. Here we overtook one of the foremost companies of the Oregon emigrants. Three days before we had sent a small detachment of our camp in advance to this place; they arrived about four hours before any of the emigrants, and having a skiff of sole-leather, that would carry 1500 or 1800 pounds, they were employed to ferry them (the emigrants) over, carrying their goods in the skiff, and swimming the empty wagons, which were frequently whirled several times over by the force of the current. A few miles from this place the hunters had succeeded in killing a few buffalo, and some three or four grizly bears, which are quite numerous on the Black Hills. A range of these hills, running nearly east and west, lay to the south of us. To the summit of this range, south of the ferry, is 5 3/4 miles in a straight line, as I determined by a trigonometrical measurement with the sextant. Its altitude, probably, is 1200 or 1500 feet above the North Fork. Large banks of snow are quite numerous near and on its summit.
June 13th. It being Sunday we attended meeting, and much good instruction was given by several who addressed the people. The emigrants whom we crossed over, pursued their journey this morning, and were followed a few hours afterwards by the company, who crossed about 11 miles below.
June 14th. We commenced crossing to-day, carrying some of our empty wagons on light rafts made of pine poles, lashed together, and swimming others; but we found that the current was too rapid to swim wagons without injuring them, and were obliged to resort wholly to the slower process of rafting. We succeeded in getting over only 24 wagons during the day. Towards evening we were visited with a very heavy thunder shower from the west, accompanied with hail and a severe gale of wind, but no particular damage done, with the exception of wetting the contents of many wagons.
June 15th. By a meridian observation of the sun, I determined the latitude to be 42 deg. 50 min. 18 sec. And at a quarter past one p.m. the barometer stood at 24.810, attached thermometer 78 deg. detached 77.5 deg. A high west wind renders crossing the river rather difficult. We tarried at this place until the morning of the 19th, during which time we made two large cotton wood canoes, and placing them parallel to each other, a few feet asunder, firmly pinned on cross pieces and flat slabs running lengthwise of the canoes, and having attached a rudder and oars, with a little iron work, we had a boat of sufficient strength to carry over the loaded wagons of the emigrants. In charge of this ferry boat, we left Cot. Groves with nine men, to ferry over the Oregon emigrants, who were daily arriving in small companies, and very anxious to be forwarded over without delay. From the mean of four observations taken on successive days with the barometer and thermometer, the height of this place above the sea level is 4858 feet: the barometric column during the time fluctuated nearly one half of an inch. These atmospheric disturbances has given rise to high winds from the west, which have blown for several days in succession. The nights have been sufficiently cold to produce, here and there, some frost upon those plants and vegetables, which are the best radiators of heat. By three separate observations, two with the circle and one with the sextant, all of which included thirty-one readings, the angular distance of the sun and moon was taken for the longitude. A great quantity of fish abound in a stream or creek that runs into the Platte from the right bank, but a short distance below the ferry. One man, with a hook, caught fifty in a short time; they would average about one pound each, the chief part of them resembling a herring in appearance.
June 19th. Saturday morning we again resumed our journey, leaving ten men in charge of the ferry, who were instructed to come on with our next company, who were expected in a month or six weeks. In the meantime they were to take every precautionary measure to protect themselves, horses, and substance from Indian aggressions. We left the North Fork of the Platte at the ferry for the Sweet Water. For the first twelve miles there is no water, the next nine and a half miles brings us to the second watering place, but no grass of any consequence. We encamped here about sundown. On the north side of the road, and a short distance from it, is a dangerous miry place for cattle, the ground being covered to a considerable depth with saline efflorescences.
June 20th. We started early this morning and travelled 3 3/4 miles, and halted for breakfast upon a clear stream of water and good grass. At eight o'clock the barometer stood at 24.452, attached thermometer 62 deg., detached thermometer 61 deg. A light breeze from the west, with a clear sky, renders the morning delightful. After breakfast we travelled about nine miles, and crossed over and passed by, four or five small streams of water, and halted for noon. In the afternoon crossed over a rapid stream about ten feet wide, with sufficient water to carry a flour mill. Towards evening, not finding grass for our animals, we turned off from the road about half a mile, and encamped about dark, near the bottoms of the stream last mentioned. We traveled 7 1/4 miles this afternoon. Capt. W. Woodruff and Mr. Brown left our camp on horseback, and went on in advance, and not retuning we were somewhat uneasy about them.
June 21st. We resumed our journey, and in a short time found ourselves in the nieghbourhood of vast quantities of Saleratus; a number of bushels were gathered up by the camp, and said to be of a good quality. We travelled 7 1/2 miles this forenoon, which brought us to the right bank of the Sweet Water, about one mile below "Rock Independance." 42 deg. 30 sec. 16 min. was the latitude about 1 1/2 miles below this rock. A short distance above the rock we forded the Sweet Water, which here is about three feet deep and 70 feet wide. We travelled 7 3/4 miles and encamped within a quarter of a mile of the upper end of Devil's Gate, upon the right bank of the Sweet Water. Observations were taken for the latitude and longitude.
June 22nd. At 4 a.m. barometer stood at 24.250, attached thermometer 46 deg., detached thermometer 42 deg. The morning is calm and clear. Early this morning I visited the top of the Devil's Gate Rock, having with me my barometer and thermometer. By a barometrical measurement, the perpendicular walls were about 400 feet high above the river, which here cuts through a granite rock, forming a chasm about 900 or 1000 feet in length, and 130 feet in breadth. The rock upon the right bank runs back from the river about a quarter of a mile, and consists of alternated and perpendicular strata of gray granite and scoriated trap rock. I observed five alternate strata of trap rock trending to the north-east and south-west: these varied in breadth from one to five rods. The bed of the river in this chasm is nearly choked up by massive fragments of rock, which have been precipitated from above. About a quarter of a mile from the river, near the point of this granite hill, appeared some sandstone and conglomerate formations. We travelled ten miles and halted for noon, latitude 42 deg. 28 min. 25 sec. The mountainous aspect of the country is certainly very picturesque and beautiful. The valley of the Sweet Water varies in breadth from 5 to 8 or 10 miles, bounded upon the north and south by mountainous ridges, isolated hills, and ragged summits of massive granite, varying from 1200 to 2000 feet in height, those upon the southern boundary being the highest, and are partially covered with snow and well timbered with pine, while those on the north are entirely bare, with the exception of here and there an isolated pine or cedar in the clefts or benches of the hills. The river seems to hug the base of the hills on the north, and although its general course is to the east, its short and frequent meanderings give it a serpentine appearance; its average breadth is about 60 feet, its average depth about 4 feet, with a rapid current; its bottom consists of fine sand and gravel, while the bottom land for a few rods upon each bank generally affords sufficient grass for the emigrants; but the rest of the plain, for several miles in width, is of a sandy, barren, sterile aspect, with scarcely any vegetation but artemesia or wild sage, which seems here to flourish in great abundance, growing in places to the enormous size of 8 or 10 inches in diameter, and 8 or 10 feet in height. There is no timber upon the Sweet Water, and we are dependent altogether upon the drift wood, buffalo excrement, and artemesia, the latter burns extremely well, with a clear bright flame. In the afternoon I caught a glimpse of Wind river mountains, but the air was too smoky to discover anything but a faint blue outline. We passed over two or three small streams and encamped after having made 20 3/4 miles over a sandy road which has made it quite laborious for our teams. Towards night, musquitoes were very troublesome, but after sundown they soon dispersed, the air becoming too cold for them.
June 23rd. At 6 o'clock the barometer stood at 23.995, attached thermometer 51 deg., detached thermometer, 48 deg., the morning calm and clear. We started at the usual hour, or about 7 o'clock; crossed during the forenoon a small stream, and passed by several small hills, situated upon the plain, of fine-grained calcarious sandstone, very friable. We travelled 9 miles, and stopped to noon directly at a place where the river proceeds from between the hills, which rise very abruptly from each side. Latitude 42 deg. 31 min. 20 sec. Our road here bends off a short distance to the south, and then again assumes a westerly direction; and after a journey of 8 miles during the afternoon, through deep sand, we again struck the Sweet Water, and encamped upon its right bank for the night. The grass is good, but no wood; we therefore resorted to the wild sage for our fires. Two companies of Oregon emigrants are encamped a short distance above us. The Wind River chain of mountains exhibit in the distance their towering peaks whitened by perpetual snow, which, glittering in the sunbeams, resemble white fleecy clouds.
June 24th. At half-past five o'clock the barometer stood at 23.766, attached thermometer 47 deg. detached thermometer 42 deg. The morning is calm and clear. The country over which we passed to-day is very sandy and barren, and not finding good grass we made no noon halt, but travelled 17 3/4 miles and encamped on the Sweet Water. The road here crosses this stream. We passed in the forenoon sulphur springs, sometimes called ice springs. We took a spade and dug down about one foot, and found the ground frozen and large quantities of ice. A few rods west of this we saw two or three small lakes or ponds, the water in them was very salt and of a bitterish taste. The soil is covered in many places with saline effloresences of considerable depth. Mr. Young had the misfortune after we had encamped to have one of his best horses accidentally shot, which died during the night. It was one of the best horses in camp. Two camps of the Oregon emigrants are but a few rods distant. Dense patches of willows grow upon the margin of the stream.
June 25th. At half-past five o'clock the barometer stood at 23.431, attached thermometer 53 deg., detached thermometer 51 deg. The morning is clear, with a moderate breeze from the west, which soon however increased to a high wind. The country to-day begins to assume a more broken aspect, but not as mountainous and rugged as it is some 50 miles to the east; the hills here being more numerous and rolling, while at the former place they are more collected in chains. We travelled 8 3/4 miles and halted for noon, latitude 42 deg. 28 min. 36 sec. To the right of our road we saw several rocks of a white marl formation, and during the day we saw earthy limestone, ferruginous and grey compact sandstone, having a dip of about 30 deg. to the north. A short distance to the north of which was an extensive formation of red mineral clay; and a few rods from the road was a formation of red and whiteish fine-grained sandstone, commonly called gritstone: excellent grindstones might be formed from it. We also passed by a species of bluish limestone, very compact; also large masses of trap rock, with some syenite. We traveled in the afternoon 11 1/2 miles, and encamped upon a small tributary to the Sweet Water. The water was clear and cold. Frequent banks of snow are upon the hills in our immediate neighbourhood. Just below us is quite a large and beautiful grove of aspen or poplar. The evening is cold, rendering our overcoats quite a necessary appendage. The perpetual snows which completely cover the Wind River chain, gives the scenery a cold wintry aspect.
June 26th. At a quarter to five o'clock the barometer stood at 23.095, attached thermometer 31 deg., detached thermometer 28 deg. The grass is whitened with frost, and the sudden change from the high temperatures of the sandy vallies below us is most severely felt by both man and beast. We resumed our journey, travelled two miles, and, being on the highest elevation that our road would pass over for several miles, I took an observation of the barometric column, which stood at 23.046, attached thermometer 51 deg., detached thermometer 46.5 deg. We travelled during the forenoon 11 miles, crossing the main branches of the Sweet Water, which were quite high, produced by the melting snows which were accumulated in places upon its banks, as well as in the mountains. At the largest and last of the main branches of the Sweet Water we halted to noon, latitude 42 deg. 22 min. 42 sec. It was quite interesting to see an abundance of good grass intermixed with various plants and flowers upon the bottoms of this stream, while upon the same bottoms, and only a few yards distant, were large banks of snow several feet in depth. This is 8 miles east of the South Pass. Myself with several others came on in advance of the camp, and it was with great difficulty that we could determine the dividing point of land which separates the waters of the Atlantic from those of the Pacific. This country called the South Pass, for some 15 or 20 miles in length and breadth, is a gentley undulating plain or prairies, thickly covered with wild sage, from one to two feet high. On the highest part of this plain over which our road passes, separates the wathers of the two oceans, is a small dry basin of 15 or 20 acres, destitute of wild sage but containing good grass. From this basin, about half a mile both to the east and the west, the road gently rises about 40 or 50 feet, either of which elevations may be considered as the highest on our road in the Pass. On the western elevation the barometer stood at 23.101, attached thermometer 58.5 deg., detached thermometer 56 deg., giving for the elevation above the sea, 7085 feet. The distance of this Pass from Fort Laramie, as measured by our mile machine, is 275 1/2 miles. I went on with my carriage, accompanied by three or four men, and encamped four miles west of the Pass, while the main camp succeeded in finding an abundance of water and good grass near the Pass, a short distance to the north. At the place of my encampment, the water and grass were good but quite miry. By some this is called Pacific Spring, by others Muddy Spring. A few rods from us were encamped a small company of men from Oregon on their way to the States. They were performing the journey on horseback, and had left the settlements in Oregon on the 5th of May. Major Harris, a trapper and hunter, accompanied them to this point; and from here he intended to act as a guide to some of the emigrant companies, if they wished to employ him. Having wandered and resided in different parts of this mountainous country for 20 or 25 years, he had acquired an extensive and intimate knowledge of all the main features of the country to the Pacific. We obtained much information from him in relation to the great interior basin of the Salt Lake, the country of our destination. His report, like that of Captain Fremont's, is rather unfavourable to the formation of a colony in this basin, principally on account of the scarcity of timber. He said that he had travelled the whole circumference of the lake, and that there was no outlet to it.
June 27th. At half-past nine o'clock the barometer stood at 23.303, attached thermometer 68.8 deg., detached thermometer 63 deg. The morning calm and clear. A little after ten the main camp came up; we moved on two miles from my encampment and halted for noon, latitude 42 deg. 18 min. 58 sec. In the afternoon travelled 9 miles over a sandy and nearly level country, and encamped on a small stream. Grass very poor.
June 28th. The morning is calm, clear, and pleasant, but no dew, although the night was favourable to its deposition. One of the oxen was badly gored by a bull this morning, which in all probability will render him unserviceable during the rest of our journey. Major Harris still remains in our camp, and has succeeded in selling many of his peltries; but he intends to leave us to-day. Travelled this forenoon 13 1/2 miles over a plain whose formation was a mixture of sand and gravel. We found neither water nor grass, but wild sage still continues to abound. Some few antelope, but the frequent travel in this country has made them very wild. Soon after we left our morning's encampment we came to the forks of the Oregon road; we took the southern one. We halted for noon at the ford of the Little Sandy, which is now about 30 inches deep and 35 feet wide, with a sandy bottom. In the afternoon travelled 1 3/4 miles, and met Mr. Bridger with a small company going to Fort Laramie on business. He encamped with us during the night, and being a man of extensive acquaintance with this interior country, we made many enquiries of him in relation to the great basin and the country south. The information was rather more favourable that that of Major Harris. The grass on the right bank of the Little Sandy, where we are now encamped, is tolerably good. There are some few willows, which grow in small but dense clusters.
June 29th. At 6 o'clock the barometer stood at 23.663, attached thermometer 51 deg., detached thermometer 51.8 deg. The morning is calm and clear. We resumed our journey and travelled 6 3/4 miles, and reached the ford of the Big Sandy, where we halted for noon, latitude 42 deg. 6 min. 42 sec. Big Sandy is about 80 yards broad, with nearly 3 feet of water in the channel at the ford. The melting snow of the mountains has raised the streams on both sides the Pass. We travelled 17 miles this afternoon without grass or water, although in about 12 miles water might have been obtained from the Big Sandy, which runs about half a mile to the left of our road; but there being no grass we concluded to pass on. We encamped a little after dark upon the right bank of the Big Sandy; the grass here was good, but no wood upon this bank, but some few large trees resembling cotton-wood upon an island, and upon the opposite bank. Towards evening the musquitos were exceedingly troublesome, but the coolness of the evening soon quieted them.
June 30th. At half-past five o'clock the barometer stood at 23.969, attached thermometer 49 deg., detached thermometer 46 deg. The morning is calm and clear. Travelled 8 miles from our morning's encampment, and arrived at Green River ferry. Green River is very high, there being in the channel from 12 to 15 feet of water; the width of the water is about 180 yards, with a very rapid current. We made two rafts, each rigged with oars and rudder, and succeeded in getting all our wagons over in safety, without taking out any of their contents. We caused our animals to swim over. There is considerable cotton wood upon this river, and good grass in some places; musquitoes are in great abundance and very troublesome during the day, the nights being generally too cold for them. This afternoon, towards sundown, Mr. Samuel Brannan arrived in camp from the Bay of St. Francisco on the Pacific: he was the gentleman whom we appointed in the city of New York to take charge of a company of our church, consisting of 200 or 300 persons, and conduct them by ship to Upper California by the way of Cape Horn. The ship sailed from New York in the winter of 1846, and they landed in California in the autumn of the same year. Since that Brother Brannan had for most of the time been engaged in locating a colony of the Saints on the San Joaquin river; and having brought a good printing press with him, he published a paper called the "California Star," 16 Nos. of which he had issued and brought with him to our camp. He left the Bay of St. Francisco, expressly to meet us, on the 4th of April last, accompanied by only two persons; and, having at this early season of the year braved the dangers of the deep snows upon the mountains, and the wild and savage tribes of Indians that roam over these terrific regions, he arrived in safety at our camp; having also passed directly over the camping ground where about 40 or 50 California emigrants had perished, and been eaten up by their fellow-sufferers only a few days before. Their skulls, bones, and carcasses lay strewed in every direction. He also met the hindmost of one of these unfortunate creatures making his way in to the settlements. He was German, and had lived upon human flesh for several weeks.
July 2nd. At Green River ferry, right bank, at half-past six o'clock, the barometer stood at 24.009, attached thermometer 56 deg., detached thermometer 53 deg. By a meridian altitude of the sun, the latitude is 41 deg. 52 min. 37 sec.
July 3rd. All things being in readiness we resumed our journey in the afternoon, and travelled 3 miles, and encamped upon the right bank of Green River. Grass good; mosquitoes in dense swarms; the soil barren and sandy, except in places near the river.
July 4th. Sunday. The camp having been called together last evening, all who were desirous to return and meet their families, who they expected were in our next emigration camp, supposed to be some 400 or 500 miles in our rear, had the privilege of so doing. Five volunteered to return. This morning they started, taking with them instructions to the Saints whom they should meet, and also a short synopsis from some of our journals as a reference, containing the distances, good camping places, &c.; and if they should meet the detachment from the Mormon battalion, under Captain Brown, one was counselled to return as a guide to the detachment, if desired. The camp met for public worship under the presidency of the bishops, some of the Twelve having returned as far as the ferry with the brethren who returned to meet their families. In the afternoon 13 soldiers, all belonging to the church, came into the camp, accompanied by those of the Twelve that went back to the ferry, where they were met. These 13 had been detached by Captain Brown to go in advance of the main body, in order to obtain some horses that had been stolen from them while at Pueblo. The thieves they had learned were at Bridger's trading post, on Muddy Fork, a few miles south-west from this. These brethren, when they came into the camp, were greeted with three hvarty [hearty] cheers.
July 5th. The morning is calm and clear. We left our camping ground, and travelled 3 1/2 miles, following the right bank of Green River. We here came to a short halt and watered our animals, and again started, leaving Green River, and gradually ascended the bluffs, and continued over a gently undulating sandy plain, destitute of grass and water for 16 1/2 miles, when we gradually descended upon the left bank of Black's Fork. This stream is about 70 feet wide, swift current, and its waters somewhat roily. The most of the mountain streams of any size have at this stage of water a muddy appearance, although when low they are represented to be very clear. We encamped for the night on the left bank of Black's Fork; grass not very good, and no timber. Several of the camp have for a few days been slightly afflicted with fever, probably occasioned by the suffocating clouds of dust which rise from the sandy road, and envelope the whole camp when in motion, and also by the sudden changes of temperature; for during the day it is exceedingly warm, while the snowy mountains which surround us on all sides, render the air cold and uncomfortable during the absence of the sun.
July 6th. At half-past six this morning the barometer stood at 23.859, attached thermometer 53 deg., detached thermometer 52 deg. The morning is calm and very pleasant. We travelled 3 3/4 miles, and forded Ham's Fork, which is now about 35 or 40 feet wide, and about 2 feet deep. In 1 1/2 miles we came to Black's Fork ford, which is about 2 1/2 feet deep in the channel. We proceeded on about 13 miles, and re-crossed Black's Fork, the depth about the same as below. We camped upon the left bank. The grass was good; some dense clusters of willow, and four or five cotton wood trees near camp. Around our encampment we noticed considerable quantities of flax. A number of fish, (by some called salmon-trout,) weighing from 1 to 10 pounds, have been caught with the hook in the different streams on this side of the South Pass.
July 7th. This forenoon I came on in advance of the camp for the purpose of taking some observations. Two and a-half miles brought me to the ford of Black's Fork; water about 3 feet deep. Two and three quarter miles further I crossed a branch on the right bank of Black's Fork, about 35 feet wide, and 1 1/2 feet deep. Eleven and a quarter miles from this I arrived upon the right bank of Black's Fork. Nine Indian lodges stood a few rods distant, occupied by the families of the trappers and hunters, who have taken squaws for wives. Some few half-breed children were seen playing about their lodges. Bridger's trading post is situated half a mile due west of these lodges on an island. The main camp having arrived, we passed over four branches of Black's Fork, without any road but a footpath. Three quarters of a mile brought us to the door of Bridger's. We here turned to the south, and crossing three more branches camped within half a mile of the post. Black's Fork is here broken up into quite a number of rapid streams forming a number of islands, all containing 700 or 800 acres of most excellent grass, with considerable timber, principally cotton wood and willow. Bridger's post consists of two adjoining log houses, dirt roofs, and a small picket yard of logs set in the ground, and about 8 feet high. The number of men, squaws, and half-breed children, in these houses and lodges, may be about 50 or 60. I took some astronomical observations, which gave for the latitude of the post 41 deg. 19 min. 13 sec. By a mean of two barometrical observations, taken on the 7th and 8th, the calculated height above the level of the sea was 6665 feet. The distance from the South Pass is 109 1/2 miles. Musquitoes very numerous and troublesome.
July 8th. The morning is cold. Ice was formed during the night, which, however, was soon melted by the rising sun, the thermometer standing at nine o'clock at 66 degrees, with a brisk wind from the south-west. Several large speckled trout were caught with the hook this morning. Our blacksmiths are busily engaged in setting wagon tires, shoeing horses, &c., and preparing for a rough mountainous road, in a south-west direction towards the Salt Lake.
July 9th. Mr. S. Brannan and some few others returned towards the South Pass, to meet the main detachment of the battalion. We again resumed our journey, taking Mr. Hasting's new route to the Bay of St. Francisco: this route is but dimly seen, as only a few wagons passed over it last season. We continued gradually to ascend, and in 6 1/4 miles came to a small brook, formed by a spring and melting snow, which lay in places upon its banks. In about 3/4 of a mile, crossed this brook, and ascended a long steep hill for about 1/2 a mile at the top of which I obtained the latitude, which was 41 deg. 16 min. 11 sec., after which our road led across a comparatively level table land for 2 or 3 miles. We then descended 150 or 200 feet down a very steep hill. We travelled 5 1/2 miles from the station where I took the latitude, descending 400 or 500 feet, and crossed a stream about 15 feet wide and 1 1/2 feet deep-very clear water: this is said to be a branch of Muddy Fork. Some few willows upon its bank. We encamped on the left bank for the night, it being 13 miles from Bridger's. The grass is good; there is a quantity of large grass, which very much resembles wheat, having heads and nearly as tall-our animals are very fond of it. We discovered, now and then, a little of this kind of grass on the Sweet Water, but as we continue our journey it increases in quantity. There is another species of fine tender grass, which the animals are also extremely found of. We saw to day considerable cedar upon the hills, on each side of our road; it is low and scrubby. No game to be seen. A short distance from where we encamped, we saw an abundance of fine grit sandstone, of very excellent quality for grindstones.
July 10th. We commenced gradually to ascend, passing a small spring which we called Red Mineral Spring, from the extreme redness of the soil out of which it issued; its taste was very disagreeable, and no doubt poisonous, on account of the great per centage of copperas which it contained; from the taste, I should judge that it also contains considerable alum. After a journey of 5 miles we attained the summit of a ridge between two branches of Muddy Fork. The barometric height above the sea, was 7315 feet. From this summit we commenced descending for about one mile, and came upon a small level valley, from 30 to 50 rods wide: there was some water in places in this valley, proceeding principally from mineral springs. From the ridge we had descended 300 or 400 feet, we followed up this valley to the south-west, and halted for noon 3 miles from the last named ridge, latitude 41 deg. 14 min. 21 sec. We continued on for 5 miles, our road ascending gradually for a while, and then quite abruptly, until we attained the summit of the dividing ridge between the waters of the Gulf of California and those of the Great Salt Lake, or the branches of Muddy Fork on the east and Bear River on the west. The barometric elevation of this ridge above the sea is 7700 feet, being 615 feet higher than the South Pass at the head of the Sweet Water. From this summit we commenced descending very abruptly at first, and then more gradually. We continued down this narrow valley in a south-westerly direction for about four miles; no running water, but some standing in pools; the grass was good. From this ravine we crossed a slight elevation on the left, and descended gradually upon a small tributary to Bear River; here we encamped for the night. About 25 rods south of this stream, coming out of the bluffs on the left bank, is a most excellent cold spring of pure water; good grass. Some few willow, with the wild sage, was our fuel as usual. On the side of the hills to the north-west, about 100 rods, are some few cedars. We are now 5 miles from the summit of the last dividing ridge. We travelled 18 miles to-day. Just before our encampment, as I was wandering alone upon one of the hills, examining the various geological formations, I discovered a smoke some two miles from our encampment, which I expected arose from some small Indian encampment. I informed some of our men and they immediately went to discover who they were; they found them to be a small party from the Bay of St. Francisco, on their way home to the States. They were accompanied by Mr. Miles Goodyear, a mountaineer, as far as this point, where Mr. Goodyear learning from us that the Oregon emigration was earlier than usual, and that they, instead of coming by way of Bridger's had taken a more northern route, concluded to go down Bear River, and intersect them for the purpose of trade.
July 11th. Sunday. Mr. Craig and three others proceeded on their journey for the States. Mr. Goodyear and two Indians went down Bear River. The morning is clear, calm, and pleasant, although it was cold during the night, forming considerable ice. About 1 1/2 miles south we discovered a mineral tar spring, and a few rods to the north-east some sulphur springs. At this point the roads fork, a few wagon tracks bearing off to the south, while a few others bore down the small creek on which we were encamped.
July 12th. This morning we resumed our journey, taking the right hand fork of the road down the creek, which is represented as being the nearest, and 1 3/4 miles brought us to Bear River ford. The river here is about 60 feet wide, 2 1/2 feet deep: a very rapid current, and the bottom completely covered with rounded boulders, some of which were about as large as a human head. The height above the sea is 6836 feet. Some speckled trout were caught in the stream this morning. The road again forks at this place. We took the right hand, which bore a few degrees south of west. For about 2 miles our road gradually ascended, and crossing a ridge we commenced descending, following down for several miles a ravine in which there was little water. Plenty of grass, of an excellent quality, is found in almost every direction. The country is very broken, with high hills and vallies, with no timber excepting scrubby cedar upon their sides. Antelope again appear in great abundance, but rather wild: some 10 or 12 were brought in by our hunters in the course of the day. The road is exceedingly difficult to find, excepting in places where the grass has not completely obscured it. We halted for noon a little east of a pudding stone formation. This ledge is on the right of the road, which passes along at its base. The rocks are from 100 to 200 feet in height, and rise up in a perpendicular and shelving form, being broken or worked cut into many curious forms by the rains. Some quite large boulders were cemented in this rock. Mr. B. Young, being sick, concluded to stop a few hours and rest; several wagons stopped with him for company, the rest being requested to move on. We continued down the ravine but a short distance, where it empties its waters into a small tributary of Bear River, which we crossed and again began to ascend for some distance, when we crossed another ridge and descended rather abruptly at first but afterwards more gradually into another ravine, at the head of which was a good spring of cold water. We continued descending this ravine until towards evening, when we encamped at the foot of a ledge of rocks on the right. Here is the mouth of a curious cave in the centre of a coarse sandstone fronting to the south, and a little inclined from the perpendicular. The opening resembles very much the doors attached to an out-door cellar, being about 8 feet high and 12 or 14 feet wide. We called it Reddin's Cave, a man by that name being one of the first in our company who visited it. We went into this cave about 30 feet, where the entrance becoming quite small, we did not feel disposed to penetrate it any further. On the under side of the roof were several swallows' nests. Mr. Young did not overtake us to-night.
July 13th. Early this morning we dispatched two messengers back to meet Mr. Young, being unwilling to move any farther until he should come up. The barometer here indicates quite a fall since leaving Bear River, the mercury standing, at half-past six a.m., at 24.005, attached thermometer 62 deg., detached thermometer 60.5 deg. The morning is calm and clear. The two messengers returned, and Mr. H. C. Kimball with them. They reported Mr. Young as getting better, but that he did not think of moving to-day. Those of the Twelve present directed me to take 23 wagons and 42 men, and proceed on the journey, and endeavour to find Mr. Reid's route across the mountains, for we had been informed that it would be impracticable to pass through the kanyon on account of the depth and rapidity of the water. About 3 p.m. we started, and proceeded down Red Fork about 8 3/4 miles and encamped. At present there is not much water in this fork thus far. The height of our encampment above the sea is 6070 feet.
July 14th. We resumed our journey. Travelled about 6 3/4 miles, and halted for noon, latitude 41 deg. 1 min. 47 sec. In the afternoon travelled about 6 1/4 miles further, which brought us to the junction of Red and Weber's Forks. Our journey down Red Fork has truly been very interesting and exceedingly picturesque. We have been shut up in a narrow valley from 10 to 20 rods wide, while upon each side the hills rise very abruptly from 800 to 1200 feet, and the most of the distance we have been walled in by vertical and overhanging precipices of red pudding-stone, and also red sand-stone, dipping to the north-west in an angle of about 20 deg., (the valley of the Red Fork being about south-west.) These rocks were worked into many curious shapes, probably by the rains. The country here is very mountainous in ever direction. Red Fork, towards the mouth, is a small stream about 8 feet across: it puts into Weber's Fork from the right bank. Weber's Fork is here about 70 feet wide, from 2 to 3 feet deep; a rapid current, stony bottom, consisting of boulders: water very clear; its course bearing west-north-west. Height of the junction above the sea 5301 feet. The road has been quite rough, crossing and re-crossing the stream a great number of times. There is some willow and aspen in the valley and upon the side hills, and some scrubby cedar upon the hills and rocks as usual.
July 15th. We resumed our journey down Weber's Fork, crossing on to the left bank. Travelled about 6 miles, and encamped about one mile above the kanyon, which at the entrance is impassable for wagons. The road, crossing the river to the right bank, makes a circuit of about 2 miles, and enters the kanyon at the junction of a stream putting in from the right bank, about one-third as large as Weber's Fork. I rode on horseback, in company with Mr. Brown, about 5 miles down from our encampment, and being convinced that this was the 10 mile kanyon which had been spoken of, we returned to camp. In the meantime Mr. [Stephen Avon] Markham, with one or two others, had gone up the river on the right bank, in search of Reid's trail across the mountains, leading down to the south-eastern shores of the Salt Lake. Mr. Brown and I also went in search, travelling along the bluffs on the south. We soon struck the trail, although so dimly seen that it only now and then could be discerned; only a few wagons having passed here one year ago, and the grass having grown up, leaving scarcely a trace. I followed this trail about 6 miles up a ravine, to where it attained the dividing ridge leading down into another ravine, in a southerly direction, and returned again into camp. There is some cotton-wood timber fringing the shores of Weber's Fork, and also thick clusters of willows, making very close thickets for bears, which, from their large tracks and the large holes they have made in digging for roots, must be very numerous.
July 16th. At half-past four o'clock this morning we were visited by a thundershower: nearly rain sufficient to lay the dust, which is rather more than usually falls in the showers which have been frequent for a few days past. At half-past five o'clock the barometer stood at 24.779, attached thermometer 53 deg., detached thermometer 52 deg. Calm, and still partially cloudy. We concluded to send Mr. Rockwell back, to report to the other portion of the pioneers that we had found the new route, &c., which we had anticipated would be troublesome to find. We resumed our journey up a small stream on Reid's route, sending in advance of the wagons a small company of about a dozen with spades, axes, &c., to make the road passable, which required considerable labour. We travelled about 6 miles, and, crossing the ridge, began to descend another ravine. Travelled down about 2 1/2 miles, which took about 4 hour's labour, and encamped for the night. Plenty of grass and water; some antelope; small willows in abundance. After we had encamped Mr. [Elijah] Newman and myself walked down the ravine to examine the road. We found that Mr. Reid's company last season had spent several hour's labour in spading, &c., but finding it almost impracticable for wagons, they had turned up a ravine, at the mouth of which we had encamped, and taken a little more circuitous route over the hills.
July 17th. A severe frost during the night. Early this morning I started out alone, and on foot, to examine the country back, to see if there was not a more practicable route for the companies in the rear than the one we had come. I was soon satisfied that we had taken the best and only practicable route. Met a large grey wolf about 4 rods from me. I returned to camp and counseled the company not to go any further until they had spent several hour's labour on the road over which we passed yesterday afternoon; and all who were able to work laboured about two-thirds of the day upon the same; and, leaving orders for the camp towards night to move on, Mr. Brown and myself rode on to explore. About 3 1/8 miles brought us down upon the right bank of the creek, which was about 20 feet wide; swift current. This creek passes through a kanyon about 40 rods below, where it is for a few rods shut up by perpendicular and overhanging walls, being a break in a mountain, which rises several hundred feet upon each side. The creek plunges underneath a large rock which lays in its bed, near the foot of the kanyon, blockading the same, and making it wholly impassable for wagons or teams. We followed the dimly traced wagon tracks up this stream for 8 miles, crossing the same 13 times. The bottoms of this creek are thickly covered with willows, from 5 to 15 rods wide, making an immense labour in cutting a road through for the emigrants last season. We still found the road almost impassable, and requiring much labour. The mountains upon each side rise abruptly from 600 to 3000 feet above the bed of the stream. Leaving our horses at the foot, we ascended to the summit of one which appeared to be about 2000 feet high. We had a prospect limited in most directions by still higher peaks: the country exhibited a broken succession of hills piled on hills, and mountains on mountains, in every direction. We returned and met our camp about 4 3/4 miles from where they were encamped in the morning. They were encamped about 2 miles above the kanyon, on the left bank of Kanyon Creek. At this place there is a small rivulet which runs down from the mountains: the water pure and cold.
July 18th. Sunday. The morning is cold, and the ground whitened by frost. We remained in our encampment to-day. Attended meeting in the forenoon. Latitude 40 deg. 54 min. 7 sec. A lunar observation was taken for the longitude. I also obtained an observation of the altitude of the moon for time.
July 19th. The morning cold and frosty, but in the middle of the day it is exceedingly warm. Mr. Brown and myself started soon after sunrise to examine the road and country a-head. We continued along the road which we explored the day before, and ascertained that the road left Kanyon Creek near the place where we stopped the day before, and run along in a ravine to the west. We ascended this ravine gradually for 4 miles, when we came to the dividing ridge. Here we fastened our horses, and ascended on foot a mountain on the right for several hundred feet. Both from the ridge where the road crosses, and from the mountain peak, we could see over a great extent of the country. On the south-west we could see an extensive level prairie, some few miles distant, which we thought must be near the Lake. We came down from the mountain and mounted our horses, and rode down on the south-west side of the mountain: the descent is very rapid at first. We travelled down several miles and found that the small stream we were descending passed through a very high mountain, where we judged it impossible for wagons to pass; and after searching awhile, we found that the wagon trail ascended quite abruptly for about 1 1/2 miles, and passed over a mountain, and down into another narrow valley, and thus avoided the kanyon; and after making these explorations we returned to our camp, which we met 6 1/4 miles from their morning encampment, having performed a great deal of labour on the road. Mr. Rockwell had returned, bringing us the intelligence that the most of the pioneer wagons were within a few miles of us. A fresh track of a buffalo was discovered in this ravine he had rubbed off some of his hair upon the brush in his path, probably the only one within hundreds of miles.
July 20th. The morning is frosty. I wrote a description of the road and country which we had traversed for several miles a-head, and left the same deposited in a conspicuous place for the benefit of the camp which were soon expected to pass. We resumed our journey about 9 o'clock in the morning, being hindered more than usual by some cattle which had strayed a short distance. We travelled today about 6 miles over the mountains, labouring diligently upon the road. The barometrical observations on the dividing ridge were 23.137, attached thermometer 80 deg., detached thermometer 76 deg., giving for the height of the same above the sea 7245 feet.
July 21st. No frost this morning, but a heavy dew. We resumed our journey, travelled 2 1/2 miles, and ascended a mountain for 1 1/2 miles; descended upon the west side one mile; came upon a swift running creek, where we halted for noon: we called this Last Creek. Brother Erastus Snow (having overtaken our camp from the other camp, which he said was but a few miles in the rear,) and myself proceeded in advance of the camp down Last Creek 4 1/2 miles, to where it passes through a kanyon and issues into the broad open valley below. To avoid the kanyon the wagons last season had passed over an exceedingly steep and dangerous hill. Mr. Snow and myself ascended this hill, from the top of which a broad open valley, about 20 miles wide and 30 long, lay stretched out before us, at the north end of which the broad waters of the Great Salt Lake glistened in the sunbeams, containing high mountainous islands from 25 to 30 miles in extent. After issuing from the mountains among which we had been shut up for many days, and beholding in a moment such an extensive scenery open before us, we could not refrain from a shout of joy which almost involuntarily escaped from our lips the moment this grand and lovely scenery was within our view. We immediately descended very gradually into the lower parts of the valley, and although we had but one horse between us, yet we traversed a circuit of about 12 miles before we left the valley to return to our camp, which we found encamped 1 1/2 miles up the ravine from the valley, and 3 miles in advance of their noon halt. It was about 9 o'clock in the evening when we got into camp. The main body of the pioneers who were in the rear were encamped only 1 1/2 mile up the creek from us, with the exception of some wagons containing some who were sick, who were still behind.
July 22nd. This morning George A. Smith and myself, accompanied by seven others, rode into the valley to explore, leaving the camp to follow on and work the road, which here required considerable labour, for we found that the kanyon at the entrance of the valley, by cutting out the thick timber and underbrush, connected with some spading and digging, could be made far more preferable than the route over the steep hill mentioned above. We accordingly left a written note to that effect, and passed on. After going down into the valley about 5 miles, we turned our course to the north, down towards the Salt Lake. For 3 or 4 miles north we found the soil of a most excellent quality. Streams from the mountains and springs were very abundant, the water excellent, and generally with gravel bottoms. A great variety of green grass, and very luxuriant, covered the bottoms for miles where the soil was sufficiently damp, but in other places, although the soil was good, yet the grass had nearly dried up for want of moisture. We found the drier places swarming with very large crickets, about the size of a man's thumb. This valley is surrounded with mountains, except on the north: the tops of some of the highest being covered with snow. Every 1 or 2 miles streams were emptying into it from the mountains on the east, many of which were sufficiently large to carry mills and other machinery. As we proceeded towards the Salt Lake the soil began to assume a more sterile appearance, being probably at some season of the year overflowed with water. We found as we proceeded on, great numbers of hot springs issuing from near the base of the mountains. These springs were highly impregnated with salt and sulphur: the temperature of some was nearly raised to the boiling point. We travelled for about 15 miles down after coming into the valley, the latter parts of the distance the soil being unfit for agricultural purposes. We returned and found our wagons encamped in the valley, about 5 1/4 miles from where they left the kanyon.